Last week I bought a drop spindle, wool, and safflower buds at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival to try my hand at making yarn. I've invested $30 in this project so far, which could probably buy me about three skeins of some pretty nice yarn. We'll see if making it myself is worth it.
Research on the world-wide-web brought me to "Helpful Tips for Natural Dyeing" on joyofhandspinning.com, where I quickly learned I would have to part with a little more cash. The site provided a list of necessary tools; advice on wool preparation; information on mordant (a substance used in dyeing to fix the coloring matter); and step-by-step instructions on the dyeing process.
The instructions warn not to use the same tools for dyeing that you use for cooking. I didn't have any tools I could sacrifice (except a chewed up wooden spoon), and I certainly didn't want the FDA on my ass come Spaghetti Night. Clearly in need of some disposable equipment, I stopped at Goodwill Industries (1943 SE 6th Ave., 238-6165), where I hoped to find everything on my list. Instead, I came away with only a large stainless steel pot ($7.99).
I picked up a plastic colander ($2.99) and tongs ($2.99) at Target (9000 SE Sunnyside Road, 659-1057, target.com), along with about a hundred other things I didn't really need. I shopped Safeway (3940 SE Powell Blvd., 772-4440) for two types of mordant: four ounces of Alum ($6.78) and one ounce of Cream of Tartar ($3.89). I was mystified. Although I'm not supposed to use the same utensils for eating as I use for dyeing, I found the mordant in the baking aisle. Maybe it's the safflower that's harmful?
I decided to wait until Saturday to dye so I could immerse myself in the project with no distractions. One tip in particular at joyofhandspinning.com had me troubled: never agitate, wring, or twist or shock with extreme changes in water temperature or you'll end up with felt. As far as I know, you can felt something made out of yarn, but you can't make yarn out of felt. I proceeded with the fear of felt looming.
Next Week: Kitchen Stadium
Made is a weekly how-to advertising-sales feature that focuses on D-I-Y projects and the local businesses that can help you make them.